One of my favorite things about camping is meeting new trees. All of the trees on our farm are my dear friends. We know everything about each other. But, in a new forest I see a whole bunch of new friends I can talk with.
Wait…why are you looking at me like that? Haven't you ever talked to a tree?
It might sound like a strange thing to do. After all, to have a conversation you need two people involved and do trees actually talk? You might be surprised to learn that, yes, they do, although not in the way you might think.
The secret to listening to a tree talk is silence. Trees speak very quietly, and you have to be quiet to hear them. With a pad of paper and a pen, sit by a tree with which you would like to have a conversation. Now just sit. Don’t do anything, just watch the tree. Listen to the leaves blow in the breeze, watch the animals jump around its branches, notice how far its roots go, look at the bark and see if it’s damaged, or thick and strong. Look at the top of the tree, at the highest branches. Notice how the sun falls on it and look at the pattern of leaves. Look at everything on and around the tree that you can see while sitting silently in one place.
Then, when you think you are ready, reach for your pen and paper and write down a question you would like to ask the tree. Maybe something like “How do you like birds living in your branches?” or “What does it feel like to have leaves?” Any question is good. Now, observe the tree for the answer. When you see animals hopping from branch to branch, does the branch shake slightly like it’s being tickled? Or do you hear the branches snapping, and leaves falling off, like it is too weak and uncomfortable to enjoy the animals on it. Notice the leaves. Do they gently sway and dance around in the breeze, or do they shudder and fall? Once you feel like the tree has given you its answer, write it down. Then ask it another question. The trees are full of knowledge, and even the oldest trees in the forest don’t mind sharing everything they know.
When you’re done with your interview, thank the tree and give it a big hug. Conversations with trees get easier the more you have them, and when your camping it's a good time to practice.